For more than 60 years, St. Joseph Health, Queen of the Valley Medical Center has provided high-quality health care in Napa. We know that our dedicated employees are what makes this possible and we are committed to offering wages and benefits that reflect our values as an organization, honor our staff’s commitment, and ensure our mission can continue for years to come.
We have brought this same approach to our ongoing contract negotiations with the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) at Queen of the Valley Medical Center, which represents our service and technical employees. Unfortunately, rather than engage in good-faith bargaining, NUHW has notified us they will strike for one day beginning Wednesday, Nov. 20.
Queen of the Valley staffers plan to strike on Nov. 20 to protest a lack of a union contract.
The employees represented by NUHW have previously not had a union contract. In negotiations, we have agreed to place all employees on a wage scale that pays different classifications of employees based on skill and years of service. Under our proposal, most entry-level positions would receive a starting hourly wage of $19.08 an hour, and employees with more skill and experience would receive higher wages – up to $76.40 an hour for our most skilled and experienced lead imaging technologists.
Employees currently making less than our proposed rates would receive an immediate increase to the new wage scale, for an average increase of 5%. Thereafter, employees would be eligible for both “across the board” wage increases of up to 2% and regular “step” increases as their seniority increases. (Any employees making more than the proposed scale would keep their higher wages and also remain eligible for further increases.)
Employees negotiated for 18 months before arriving at a contract.
This is a strong wage proposal, and we expected NUHW to make a reasonable counter-proposal after our last bargaining meeting on Nov. 5. Instead, NUHW announced three days later that it would go on strike, without modifying its own prior, unrealistic proposals. For instance, NUHW is proposing annual increases of 5.5% a year on top of a significantly more expensive wage scale proposal. These are unheard-of wage increases in the health care industry.
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NUHW is also rejecting key parts of our proposal, even though they offer significant benefits for our staff. These include a new paid time off program that offers up to seven weeks of paid time off a year based on years of service, affordable health plan choices, and a retirement program that offers employer contributions of up to 9% of employee income. Although NUHW has attacked these proposals with misleading information, they are not telling their members that NUHW has agreed to these exact same benefits with our sister organization in Southern California.
Queen of the Valley Medical Center is at its best when we all work together for our patients. We know that everyone benefits when our caregivers have the resources they need to thrive and we will continue to address our employees concerns through our ongoing contract negotiations. Despite NUHW’s irresponsible decision to call a work stoppage, we hope the union will return to negotiations with more realistic proposals and a renewed commitment to good-faith bargaining.
Thursday hospital workers picketed outside the Queen, a Providence St. Joseph hospital, “to demand contracts that provide safe staffing” as Providence seeks state approval to create a partnership with its Northern California hospitals and several belonging to Adventist Health.
In the meantime, we will continue our mission to serve all – especially those who are poor and vulnerable. The community has come to expect and depend on the high quality of care we provide at The Queen. Our caregivers work hard every day to deliver on our commitment as an organization. It is a privilege to be our community’s health partner and to treat our employees fairly and equitably as we deliver the high quality health care services this community deserves.
Larry Coomes, Chief Executive
Queen of the Valley Medical Center